German Shepherds are an intelligent breed of dog known to be loyal and loving to their owners. Female GSDs are extremely popular, and their caring nature can often cause owners to want a second dog in their home. When it comes to having two female German Shepherds, you always want to have ones that will get along.
Two female German Shepherds can get along and live together; however, GSDs are known to develop same-gender aggression, whereby two same-sexed dogs in the same home will show aggression toward each other. Nonetheless, you can prevent this with socialization, training, and early intervention.
Female German Shepherds have several excellent characteristics, but trying to place two together can often result in misbehavior and fighting.
Read on to discover in more detail why female German Shepherds may have a hard time getting along and what you can do about it, especially if you have your heart set on another girl.
Why Female German Shepherds Show Same-Gender Aggression
It can be surprising to hear about female to female aggression when female German Shepherds have such calm, gentle mannerisms and are very friendly towards their families and others.
However, any breed of dog, male or female, can show aggression. So why do female German Shepherds have such a difficult time having another female around?
Two females living together can feel pressured to show their dominance in the family or pack. The need to assert themselves and show who is boss can lead to major conflict and deadly fights.
“Same sex pairs can feel more pressure to assert themselves and be the dominant, or alpha, in the pack, which can lead to conflicts and, sometimes, vicious fights that can leave one pet, or both, with serious injuries.”The Mercury News
Female aggression can also develop later in life. If you bring home two female puppies, they may get along at first and then develop aggressive behavior towards one another later.
Here are a few things that can trigger aggressive behavior in females:
- Going into heat
- Hormones and pheromones
- Breeding rights with a male or having a male around
- Who gets to greet the owner or someone else first
- Fights over toys, food, or attention
- Rights to privileged areas such as beds, lounging areas, doorways, food bowl, etc.
Females closer in age can have even more problems with aggression than females of different ages. This is because they are similar in rank to each other. A female dog naturally wants to be the only dominant female of the “pack.”
If there is another female dog present who is a similar age, this can create more issues than if the other female dog were much younger. However, older females can still show hostility towards younger ones, so you still need to be careful.
Contrary to many claims, getting your female German Shepherds spayed has not been proven to help reduce aggressive behavior. One of the largest studies of almost 11,000 dogs proved that spayed and neutered dogs actually show considerably more aggression. You can find the full study here.
The best thing to do when you have two female German Shepherds who will not get along is to contact a canine behaviorist to resolve the problem.
A dog behaviorist is a qualified professional who has expert knowledge of dog behavior and communication and will formulate a plan to work with you. The Animal Behavior Society provides a useful directory of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists.
If all else fails, you can consider rehoming one of them; however, this will be a heartbreaking decision and is probably the last thing you will want to do. If you do not want to part with either of the dogs, you will need to keep them separated, especially when unattended.
By the way, if you are thinking about buying a product or toy for your dog, check out my favorite gear below. Also, check out the 10-year warranty on the dog bed!
How to Introduce Two Female German Shepherds
If you are set on having two female German Shepherds living together, there are a few things you can do to try to help them get along.
However, keep in mind throughout the process that if the methods do not work, it isn’t your fault. Some female German Shepherds will have a strong enough desire for dominance that they will not settle with letting another female dog live with them.
Here are a few steps to follow:
- Evaluate your current dog – If you are still in the process of considering adding a second female German Shepherd to your home, you will want to evaluate your current female German Shepherd and how you think she might handle having a second dog in the family. Think about your dog’s personality, history of behavior, and ability to be trained. If she already shows signs of aggression, has difficulty following commands, or being trained, then it might not be a good idea to bring another dog into her life.
- Picking the dog – If you feel your female German Shepherd will do well with another female companion, then the next step is selecting your second dog. Try to find a German Shepherd that has been socialized and has a similar personality to your current female. If you have an outgoing, energetic dog, look for a puppy that is also outgoing and energetic. Talking to the breeder about each dog’s personality can help you in selecting one that will match your dog’s temperament. To help you with this, check out my complete buyer’s guide on how to buy a German Shepherd.
- Location for introducing the dogs – When you introduce your dogs, do not do it at home. If you try to introduce them at home, your current dog may feel the need to protect her property and show her dominance. Select a neutral location, so they are less likely to view each other as intruders.
- How to introduce the dogs – Once you have selected a location for them to meet, make sure each dog is wearing a sturdy collar and leash. You also want each dog to be accompanied by a human they respect and listen to.
- Use Positive Reinforcement – You want the meeting experience for each dog to be as positive as possible right from the start. When the dogs first come in contact, let them sniff and greet each other as they usually would. During this time, calmly and positively encourage each dog verbally. After a few minutes, give them each a command to sit or lay down. This will provide them with a break from each other. After the short break, allow them to explore one another once again. As things progress positively, you can start to walk them or do other controlled activities together that still allow them to become familiar with each other.
- Look for negative body posture – If either dog begins to show signs of negative body posture while interacting, divert attention back to you by giving her some commands. One example of this is if your German Shepherd’s hair stands up. Use positive reinforcement to keep your dog calm and knowing everything is safe. Once the mood has changed, let the dogs interact once again.
- Bringing them home – As soon as the dogs are comfortable with each other in a neutral location, you can bring them home. When bringing them home, keep them in a separate car unless you feel they are ready to share a car. Once you arrive, allow the newer dog to enter the house first. This will minimize any territorial issues that your older dog may have.
- Feeding and treats – Dogs can become very protective of their food, so make sure you always give each dog her own bowl of food to eat from. It’s also a good idea to have them each eat in their own crates at the start. The same thing goes for treats and bones. Make sure each dog is given a treat or has her bone to chew on. Never let the dogs eat near each other unsupervised.
Check out this valuable 3-minute video from “Animal Wised” on introducing two dogs meeting, no matter what their gender. You can see how to introduce them, learn what to consider about the individual dogs, and get some helpful tips on how to make the dog’s first meeting go smoothly:
You will always want to observe your dogs as they grow older to make sure they continue to show positive behavior towards one another. It is never a good idea to leave them alone together unattended, at any age. Female German Shepherds, as mentioned earlier, can become aggressive towards one another later in life.
You can, of course, leave them for a while in their own crates. To learn more about how long you can leave a German Shepherd in a crate, this post gives a ton of detail including the best size of crate to use and other helpful tips.
Would Two Male German Shepherds Get Along Better than Two Females? What is the Best Combination to Have?
If you are looking to have two of the same sex of German Shepherds, then consider having two males over two females. Although male German Shepherds can also show aggression towards one another, it tends to be less severe than female aggression.
When there are two males together, they often fight over dominance in the household. They will typically try to prove their dominance by marking territory, making noise, showing off, etc. Often, an older male German Shepherd will express dominance, and the younger one will submit and accept that dominance. If this is the case, there tends to be little aggression.
Females, on the other hand, fight over breathing rights. Female fights are much more severe and tense than male dog fights and can often end up with one of the dogs badly hurt or even killed. Female on female aggression tends to be more dangerous than male on male.
The best thing to do if you want to have two German Shepherds get along is to have one male and one female.
With a dog of each gender, you are less likely to run into aggression and behavioral issues caused by dominance or territorial issues.
Having two female German Shepherds get along is uncommon but not impossible. Use the suggestions in this article to guide you as you work with your dogs and teach them that they can accept and get along well with each other.
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